In a defamation per se action, anyone who causes or participates in the publication of defamatory per se statements is potentially liable. Damages are presumed and the plaintiff need not plead or prove actual damage to reputation to recover damages. The public policy that underlies presumed damages in defamation per se action is that courts believe it may be impossible to present evidence to support an award of compensatory damages for actual harm caused by an injury to reputation. Illinois courts allows recovery for monetary or economic loss, mental suffering, and consequent bodily harm, public opprobrium, damage to community standing, embarrassment or humiliation, and injury to professional and personal reputations.
If a statement is per quod defamatory, meaning extrinsic evidence beyond the statement itself must be used to prove the statement is about the plaintiff, then unlike in a defamation per se action, the per quod plaintiff is not entitled to a presumption of injury to reputation, and he or she must plead and prove that he or she was actually damaged monetarily. General damage claims for injury to a person’s health, or emotional distress cannot be recovered in a defamation per quod action.
Some defamation claims warrant a punitive damage award, e.g., when the plaintiff proffers evidence of actual malice. “Actual malice” means the defendant made the defamatory statement knowing the statement is false, or with reckless disregard for truth or falsity.
Our more in depth discussion of actual malice in defamation cases is here.
The attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle have over thirty years of experience defending and prosecuting defamation, slander libel and cyber smear lawsuits. We are knowledgeable regarding the changes and complexities of this evolving area of the law. We are committed to fighting for our clients' rights in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. Conveniently located in Chicago and Elmhurst, Illinois, we have successfully litigated non-compete and trade secret and covenant not to compete cases for clients all over the Chicago area. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, you can contact us online or give us a call at 630-333-0333.